Fellows Morton and Clayton

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A Fellows Morton and Clayton boat at Gayton Junction, Northampton, repainted in the original company livery

Fellows Morton & Clayton Ltd was, for much of the early 20th century, the largest and best-known canal transportation company in England.[1] The company was in existence from 1889 to 1947.

Origins[edit]

Boats moored outside the Fellows Morton and Clayton basin in Nottingham

The company started in 1837 when James Fellows, an agent for a canal carrier, decided to start his own company.[2] James was 32 and based in West Bromwich. His first boat was called "Providence". In January 1839 he was allowed toll credit on the Warwick and Napton Canal as his boats were working down to London so frequently. He expanded rapidly and moved his operation to Toll End in Tipton in 1841. His business was as a "Railway & Canal Carrier" even though his rail activities were minor. James died in 1854 aged 49, and his widow Eliza carried on the business until their son Joshua was old enough to be an official partner. By 1855 he was transporting 13,000 tons of iron castings between London and Birmingham each year.[3]

In the late 1850s a new boat-building facility was built at Tipton and by the early 1860s the fleet had grown to some 50 boats. Long-distance carrying was the mainstay of the business during these early years.

In 1876 Frederick Morton brought with him investment capital to expand the business, and the company name was changed to Fellows Morton & Co. This new company continued to absorb smaller traders, so expanding with new boats and also with acquired vessels.

Formation of the company[edit]

In 1888-1889 William Clayton of Saltley, who operated a special fleet of liquid cargo boats as well as traditional loads, became the third partner. William died before the companies merged formally but his son, Thomas, took his place. Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd. was formed on 3 July 1889.

The three managing directors appointed at the first meeting of the new company were Joshua Fellows, Frederick Morton and Thomas Clayton, on salaries of £600 (£60,000 as of 2014),[4] each. The new chairman of Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd was Alderman Reuben Farley the majority of shareholders being family members of the directors of the company.

At the time of formation the general cargo fleet amounted to some 11 steamers and around 112 butty boats. The tank boats were transferred to another new company which was called Thomas Clayton Limited of Oldbury.[5]

The headquarters and basin at Fazeley Street, Birmingham

The company's first results for the 18 months ending 30 June 1890 showed a net profit of £7,497 (£720,000 as of 2014),[4]. Trading had not been easy to start with - a dock strike in London had caused a serious financial loss and an epidemic of Russian influenza amongst the horses had caused many deaths. However, as there was new traffic, a new basin and headquarters were completed at Fazeley Street in Birmingham. The headquarters were by the builder, Edwin Shipway.[6] Also the company had acquired the interests of a rival carrier, Fanshaw and Pinson. The capital then stood at £84,620 (£8,130,000 as of 2014),[4]; barges, boats and steamers were valued at £20,852 (£2,000,000 as of 2014),[4]and horses at £4,000 (£380,000 as of 2014),[4].

On-going progress[edit]

In 1895, new offices, stables and warehouses were opened in Nottingham on Canal Street. The architect was William Dymock Pratt.[7]

By 1898 the capital had increased to £95,060 (£9,240,000 as of 2014),[4], and the business of the London and Birmingham Canal Carrying Company had been acquired.

By 1906, assets stood at £143,300. (£13,450,000 as of 2014),[4]

In 1935 a new large warehouse was constructed at the Birmingham depot by the architects Watson & Johnson.[8]

Steam-powered boats[edit]

1909-built FMC steam narrowboat President, preserved in working order, based at the Black Country Living Museum[9]

In the new boatyard at Fazeley Street they built five steel-plate steam-powered boats. After an initial period of use they were found unsatisfactory because of the excessive wear on the hull's steel.[10]

In 1896 Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd tried iron in the construction of their boats. The boat had an elm bottom and iron sides.[11] This proved much more effective and 3 of the 5 original steel steamers were rebuilt.

Between 1898 and 1899, 8 more iron composite steamers were produced from the Saltley dock and 9 more between 1905 and 1911.

The steamers were known as fly-boats or express-boats and kept mainly on main-line long-distance routes. On the timetable, a trip from London (City Road Basin) to Birmingham (Fazeley Street Depot) would take around 54 hours. It was a non-stop service and the crew of four would change shifts along the route. The main drawback was the lack of carrying space on the boat due to the size of the engine and boiler. The boats picked up coke at preset points along their routes.

President survives and is owned and operated by and from the Black Country Living Museum.

List of steamers built by Fellows Morton and Clayton[edit]

Name Construction type Construction location Construction date Registration Engine Boiler Fate
HECLA Wooden Toll End, Tipton 1886 Birmingham 803 27 Mar 1892 W.H. and A.H Haines Ltd. Birmingham Cochranes, Birkenhead Dismantled November 1921
QUEEN Wooden Toll End, Tipton 1887 Wolverhampton 591 W.H. and A.H Haines Ltd. Birmingham Cochranes, Birkenhead Dismantled around 1910
DUCHESS Wooden Toll End, Tipton 1887 Birmingham 841 16 Feb 1893 Unknown Unknown Sold May 1893
VICTORIA Wooden Toll End, Tipton 1887 Birmingham 884 27 Oct 1893 Nettlefolds, Birmingham J. Watt and Co, Birmingham Dismantled July 1919
PHOENIX Wooden Saltley by FMC Dec 1893 Birmingham 886 1 Dec 1893 FMC Danks, Oldbury Dismantled Sep 1925
SPEEDWELL Wooden Saltley by FMC Mar 1894 Birmingham 892 20 Apr 1894 Nettlefolds, Birmingham Cockranes, Birkenhead Dismantled Sep 1925
PIRATE Wooden Saltley by FMC Jun 1894 Birmingham 900 16 Jun 1894 Nettlefolds, Birmingham Fletchers, Derby Sold Dec 1902
DUKE Wooden Saltley by FMC Mar 1895 Birmingham 930 29 Mar 1895 FMC Cockranes, Birkenhead Dismantled Jun 1923
EARL Wooden Saltley by FMC Jun 1895 Birmingham 939 28 Jun 1895 FMC Cockranes, Birkenhead Sold Nov 1925
PRINCESS Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Jun 1896 Birmingham 959 12 Oct 1896 FMC Cockranes, Birkenhead Converted to motor boat PILOT Dec 1924
COUNTESS Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Jun 1897 Birmingham 987 1 Oct 1897 FMC Burrells, Thetford Converted to motor boat CAPTAIN July 1924
MARQUIS Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Mar 1898 Birmingham 1002 18 Mar 1898 FMC Fletchers, Derby Converted to motor boat Jan 1925
EMPEROR Iron Composite Saltley by FMC May 1898 Birmingham 1006 3 Jun 1898 FMC Cochranes, Birkenhead Converted to motor boat Apr 1917
EMPRESS Iron Composite Saltley by FMC May 1898 Birmingham 1009 16 Jul 1898 FMC Cochranes, Birkenhead Converted to motor boat ENVOY Oct 1919
PRINCE Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Oct 1898 Birmingham 1011 5 Oct 1898 FMC Fletchers, Derby Converted to motor boat Mar 1926
BARON Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Nov 1898 Birmingham 1015 23 Dec 1898 Nettlefolds, Derby Fletchers, Derby Converted to motor boat Feb 1915
BARONESS Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Nov 1898 Birmingham 1020 24 Feb 1899 Nettlefolds, Derby Fletchers, Derby Converted to motor boat BRITON May 1915
SULTAN Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Jun 1899 Birmingham 1034 7 Jul 1899 FMC Danks, Oldbury Converted to motor boat May 1924
COUNT Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Jun 1899 Birmingham 1036 4 Aug 1899 FMC Danks, Oldbury Converted to motor boat Jul 1925
COLONEL Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Jun 1899 Birmingham 1040 27 Oct 1899 FMC Danks, Oldbury Converted to motor boat Sep 1924
THE KING Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Feb 1905 Birmingham 1152 5 May 1905 FMC John Thompson & Co. Ltd. Wolverhampton Converted to motor boat Jun 1925
ADMIRAL Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Sep 1905 Birmingham 1157 29 Sep 1905 FMC John Thompson & Co. Ltd. Wolverhampton Converted to motor boat Jun 1924
GENERAL Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Nov 1907 Birmingham 1192 29 Nov 1907 FMC John Thompson & Co. Ltd. Wolverhampton Converted to motor boat May 1925
MONARCH Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Apr 1908 Birmingham 1201 22 May 1908 FMC John Thompson & Co. Ltd. Wolverhampton Converted to motor boat Jan 1925
PRESIDENT Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Jun 1909 Birmingham 1212 23 Jun 1909 FMC Ruston Proctor & Co. Ltd. Lincoln Converted to motor boat May 1925
VICEROY Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Dec 1909 Birmingham 1214 3 Dec 1909 A.H. Beasley and Sons, Uxbridge Ruston Proctor & Co. Ltd. Lincoln Converted to motor boat Dec 1925
VULCAN Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Nov 1910 Birmingham 1226 25 Nov 1910 A.H. Beasley and Sons, Uxbridge Ruston Proctor & Co. Ltd. Lincoln Ex Gas Boat. Converted to motor boat Sep 1927
VANGUARD Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Jul 1911 Birmingham 1243 29 Sep 1911 A.H. Beasley and Sons, Uxbridge Ruston Proctor & Co. Ltd. Lincoln Converted to motor boat Nov 1926
SWAN Wooden Uxbridge by FMC Jul 1911 Uxbridge 457 T.A. Savery & Co. Ltd, Birmingham T.A. Savery & Co. Ltd, Birmingham Dismantled
VICTORY Iron Composite Saltley by FMC Oct 1911 Birmingham 1247 15 Dec 1911 A.H. Beasley and Sons, Uxbridge Ruston Proctor & Co. Ltd. Lincoln Converted to motor boat Aug 1927
HECLA (II) Wooden Uxbridge by FMC May 1922 Birmingham 1436 19 May 1922 Converted to motor boat Jul 1924
DUTEOUS Wooden Uxbridge by FMC Mar 1923 Birmingham 1448 2 Mar 1923 Converted to motor boat Aug 1924

Motor boats[edit]

In 1906 an experiment was carried out on the steamer "Vulcan": a gas suction engine was fitted, which reduced the size of crew needed to run the boat and also reduced the fuel consumption, but the size of the installation was still an issue. In 1911 a rival carrier had tried a semi-diesel engine which had proved to be successful. Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd built a boat for testing this engine (a Swedish Bolinder single-cylinder direct-reversing engine from J. & C.G. Bolinder of Stockholm) which was built with a similar hull to the steamers but with a shortened engine room. "Linda" became the first motor boat of the fleet. The new engine was a success and they immediately started building another nine. Due to the success of the new engine they converted all steamers to motor boats by 1927.

Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd had built mainly their own boats, the Uxbridge dock building wooden boats and Saltley building new and maintaining existing boats. In 1922 they approached W.J. Yarwood & Sons of Northwich to make 12 motor boats. The first arrived in May 1923. They ordered 12 more from Yarwoods which were delivered hull-only starting in 1926.

Depots[edit]

The headquarters of the company was at Fazeley Street in Birmingham. In addition to this, the company maintained depots at the following locations.

Liveries[edit]

The first Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd livery was a combination of black & white with a red dividing line. Shortly after the company re-incorporated in 1921 the livery changed to red, green and yellow.

Ending[edit]

In the first 6 months of 1948 Fellows, Morton & Clayton Ltd incurred its first trading loss of £5,000 (£158,636 as of 2014),[4] and in November 1948 the company went into voluntary liquidation.[12] The assets were taken over by the British Transport Commission on 1 January 1949.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ British canals: an illustrated history. Charles Hadfield
  2. ^ Tales from the old inland waterways. Euan Corrie
  3. ^ A short history of Fellows Morton and Clayton, Alan H. Faulkner, 1975. Robert Wilson Publication.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  5. ^ Birmingham and the Black Country's canal industries. Ray Shill
  6. ^ Birmingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. Andy Foster.
  7. ^ Nottingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. Elain Harwood. Yale University Press. 2008. ISBN 978-0-300-12666-2
  8. ^ Birmingham. Pevsner Architectural Guides. Andy Foster.
  9. ^ Steam narrowboat President, which has been restored to steam power, is owned by the Black Country Living Museum, and is maintained and operated by the Friends of President. Media related to Steam narrowboat President at Wikimedia Commons
  10. ^ The inland waterways of England. L. T. C. Rolt. 1979
  11. ^ Navigable waterways. L. T. C. Rolt. 1969
  12. ^ A short history of Fellows Morton and Clayton, Alan H. Faulkner, 1975. Robert Wilson Publication.
  13. ^ The Dock and harbour authority, Volume 30. 1949